Marriage and Politics


The Cina valley, looking south from above Sengkang. The early papace site is identified by the red circle.

Ian Caldwell and Kathryn Wellen of the Koninklijk Institute door Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde (KITLV) are currently working on a study of the genealogies of the Bugis-speaking kingdoms between circa 1400-1600 CE. The project aims to establish the extent to which marriages formed a part of the process of state formation and consolidation during these two centuries. Our sources are the royal genealogies of Cina, Soppeng and Sidenreng, and the chronicles of Wajoq and Bone. 

An interesting discovery is that the kingdom of Cina, which vanished some time in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, appears to have been the dominant power south of the central lakes region between about 1400 and 1600. Together with Luwuq, Cina is an important kingdom in the Bugis epic La Galigo, the political geography of which appears to reflect a distant memory of an early stage in the development of South Sulawesi’s kingdoms. It is even possible that Cina's dominance of the area south of Lake Tempe goes back to the fourteenth or thirteenth centuries. This hypothesis is supported by ceramic and C14 evidence from excavations at the traditional palace site of Cina, which yielded some of the earliest imported Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics yet found, as well as radiocarbon dates falling between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries (Bulbeck and Caldwell 2008; Bulbeck et al. in preparation).

The other striking finding is a number of marriages between Cina and Luwuq. This indicates a close and continuing relationship beween these two kingdoms. Bulbeck and Caldwell (2000) have argued that Luwuq was settled from around Sengkang around 1300, and that Cina and Luwuq remained closely allied polities. These marriages are the only examples of affinal relations between the Bugis agricultural kingdoms and the trade-based kingdom of Luwuq.

The textual evidence for Cina's dominance over the rice growing lands to the south of Lake Tempe is the number and regularity of marriages that its rulers and their children made with polities that later became part of Soppeng. In contrast, Soppeng appears relatively unimportant, with its ruling family marrying across much shorter distances. Indeed, it was only around 1550 that Soppeng was formed from the union of two smaller polities, East and West Soppeng. It is tempting to see the rise of Soppeng as a reaction to a political vacuum created by Cina’s decline. The reasons for this decline, we would argue, are linked to the parallel decline of Luwuq in the sixteenth century, following Wajoq’s seizure of Sengkang, Tampaneng, Wage and Tempe around 1500. These settlements are are said to have comprised the ancestral lands of Luwuq, but which, we argue on the basis of genealogical evidence, were important constituants of Cina. With the loss of these settlements, Cina lost control of the Cenrana valley and its access to seaborne trade, and appears to have declined quite rapidly. Cina’s successors were Wajoq (after 1500 a power to be reckoned with) and Soppeng, which seems to have acquired Cina's tributary polities in the Walennae valley.

The project is funded by the KITLV. The initial results on the general features of Bugis genealogies will be published online in the International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies on 15 September 2016. A paper setting out the evidence for Cina was presented at the Australian National University Archaeology of Sulawesi Symposium in Makassar 31 January – 2 February 2016. A revised paper, Finding Cina: The genealogies of the western Cenrana valley, will be published in 2017 in Bidragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde,


Bulbeck et al. In preparation. The 2004 excavations at Lallangkanangnge ri La Tanete.

Bulbeck, David and Ian Caldwell. 2008. Oryza sativa and the origins of kingdoms in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Evidence from rice phytoliths. Indonesia and the Malay World 36(104): 1-20.

Bulbeck, David and Ian Caldwell. (2000) Land of iron. The historical archaeology of Luwu and the Cenrana valley: results of the Origin of Complex Society in South Sulawesi Project (OXIS). Hull: Centre for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull.